“Dear Evan Hansen” is a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about an anxious teen trying to find his place in the world while dealing with the aftermath of a fellow student’s suicide. With music from the famed duo, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and vocal talents including Ben Platt and Laura Dreyfuss, this musical addresses tough issues such as mental illness, teen suicide, and the influence of social media. It’s no wonder the rock musical dominated at the 2017 Tony Awards.
“Dear Evan Hansen” has music that almost anyone can relate to. “Waving Through a Window” perfectly describes what it’s like living with social anxiety, and “Requiem” gives you a solid, emotional punch to the gut as you sympathize with a frustrated Zoe Murphy. Lighthearted, upbeat tunes such as “If I Could Tell Her” and “Sincerely, Me” bring a smile to your face, but “So Big/So Small” and “Words Fail” will surely make you sob. Of course, nothing quite compares to the touching anthem “You Will Be Found,” which reminds us that we aren’t alone, even if we feel like we are.
Though I’ve only had the pleasure of listening to the cast recording, I have found that the album in no way dims the spirit presented in the musical. Ben Platt, who plays the titular character, conveys a wide range of emotions with his voice alone. Rachel Bay Jones captures the essence of parenthood in one song, and Laura Dreyfuss had me convinced that she was a distraught sister instead of a 28-year-old actress. And, of course, we can’t forget the raw power the entire cast presents in ensemble songs “Disappear” and “You Will Be Found.” I was in tears by the time the album finished playing.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a “musical theater person,” this show is worth investigating. The morals and issues presented are ones seldom found in today’s pop culture. There’s no doubt that “Dear Evan Hansen” will remain as a musical ensign for generations to come.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.